I don’t know what has been going on with me for the past 2-3 weeks but… I feel like I am backtracking with my social skills. I am so awkward and shy, not that this differs from how I have always been…
I know that I am a sky and reserved person. I have come to terms with that fact about myself. I used to think it was due to my low self esteem, but I have learned that it truly is who I am. I remember my mom always telling me that I used to be a really quiet baby. I never cried for attention or talked much. I always kept to myself.
Through my time in college, I have learned that not many people share this characteristic. In fact, it is super rare for people to be like this. Most people are social and know how to interact with people regularly. People are somewhat talkative. It’s in our nature. We’re social animals.
But I may just be super slow to all of this.
Take, for instance, yesterday. I took part in this photoshoot for people of color at my school. I had learned about it 5 minutes before, and I happened to be in the same building, so I thought, “Sure, I’ll stop by.”
I’ve done photo campaigns before, and they were really chill, really relaxed. And it usually took about 10 minutes or so.
But this was the first time that I had actually done a photo shoot with people in the black community. I didn’t expect there to be a difference. Heck, I didn’t even realize the difference until today. But there was one, a very big one.
I came in, and I immediately felt judged for whatever reason. Everyone would see who came in, look them up and down, and continue with their activity. I found that a bit odd, but whatever.
So I had not really thought about a pose to do, but I thought it would just be super casual. I do some smiling shots and laughing shots and be done. Nope. First, I asked for the opinion of the photographer if the color looked okay (we were able to choose are background color, and I had chosen yellow. I went with yellow because I’m always a happy, smiley person). I didn’t want it to look like I was doing 5th grade school pictures or something. She looked at me and then looked at the color, and she said, “Uhh yea, it’s whatever you want.” Then another person came and asked if something was wrong, and she told them, “She wants to make sure the color matched with her outfit.”
That’s not what I said.
I just wanted to make sure that the color looked okay, not necessarily if it went with my outfit…
Oh well. After she said that, I felt a bit self-conscious. Well great, now they think I’m self-absorbed.
So we are doing the shoot, and I am smiling casually, laughing casually, and I thought it was going well. But every time she snapped a photo, she would say, “Okay, think of something happy and cheerful.” And while I’m trying to think of something, she would snap the photo. She was going so fast, and I just wasn’t ready.
To be honest, I wasn’t ready to begin with. I was pushed to go next because the other girl was helping her friend out with something. So that left no time for me to even think.
Anyways, I am trying to, and while I am thinking about it, she’s snapping pictures. She’d look at them and say, “Okay, do you want me to put you into poses?” I was just thinking, “What?” I thought this was super casual.
So I am trying to stay happy and stay cheerful. I’m laughing into the camera, looking away, looking at her, talking with people off the camera… And then she says, “Okay, can someone make her laugh or something?” And now all eyes are on me, and I’m just standing there awkwardly.
I didn’t know what to say or how to react. I didn’t know what she wanted, and now I felt embarrassed. Now I just wanted to leave.
So people are coming and talking to me and trying to make me laugh, but I am just smiling and laughing, same as I was before, because that is just who I am naturally. But apparently it just wasn’t good enough or something. She would look at me and say, “Uhm… just… do whatever you want to do. Be yourself.”
Well, isn’t that what I was doing?
Then, she proceeded to tell me certain poses to do. She told me to act like I was yawning or stretching, and I thought that felt super weird. She told me to take off my jean jacket, which I thought looked better on, especially since now I had pit stains from all the nervousness.
When I came in to do the photo shoot, I thought that the photo was to capture the real me. All of me. Awkward, laughing, shy, smiling me. That’s why I chose yellow. I wanted to portray that.
But I don’t think she was getting it. I don’t think she got it.
So time passed by, and she said, “How about we switch backgrounds, and switch photographers?” And she said this loud enough for everyone to hear, so I felt really bad after that, but I knew I had done nothing wrong.
So I switch to someone else, who was super chill. She was actually a good friend of mine, and I knew she was good with cameras. She made me feel at ease again. I felt like I could be myself with her, and it was nice. She let me do whatever – just smile, talk with people, laugh around… the same things as what I had been doing with the prior photographer. She said I was super photogenic and that she loved the pictures she took.
I was glad we had switched photographers. She caught that. She caught me.
It’s funny though, because when the first photographer was photographing another girl, the other girl was only doing one pose, and it was fine. She was saying, “nice, great!”, but all she did was stand still and look off into the distance. Why did she want more from me?
I felt so much better afterwards. Even though it was a rocky start, it ended well.